Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Strong performance for Hyde Sails at the Flying 15 Nationals
This year’s nationals saw the Hyde sails sponsored boat finish third overall after a week of super light conditions, protests for redress and a tough last day in Weymouth Bay. Not a bad result at all for Hyde’s sail designer Richard Lovering’s first national championship in the class.
Day one set the tone for the week as the fleet was held ashore in blazing sunshine, waiting for the breeze to build. Once released, two races were completed in sub hiking conditions. The Hyde Sails team scored a sixth and a third on day one to be in contention; Mike Hart led narrowly overall from legends Goacher and Evans and lightweights Ashley and Kim from Australia.
Day two saw the same story again; postponement on shore followed by two light races in Portland Harbour. Race three was a left-handed side track on the first beat. Unfortunately, after a decent opening leg the Hyde boat made a couple of poor decisions and haemorrhaged places finishing eighth. Race four started with the pin end and the left-hand side not paying this time. Hyde sails identified this, rounding the first windward mark second, before taking control on the second beat for a handsome result and the first Flying 15 nationals race win for Richard and the first for Hyde Sails at a Flying 15 nationals since 2009! At the end of the day, Mike Hart still led after two days but several good boats were tied for second place on 10 points including the Hyde boat.
Day three was another Groundhog day. Again, two more races in sub hiking conditions and full on sunshine. Goacher laid on a lesson for a 1-2 result to take the overall lead after three days. Other boats in contention struggled a little with Bax/Grant being the best of the rest on the water for the day. Hyde sails had a tough break in race six - they were pulled out on the first run having been identified as OCS at the start. A little baffling and frustrating, especially as they were fighting for the lead at the time having rounded the first windward mark second to Cadwallader/Sweet. A subsequent protest against the race committee and request for redress by the Hyde team was won, awarding average points for the series so far. Not ideal to have your discards averaged after being disqualified from a race winning position, but better than a kick in the face.
Day four saw same again, but only one long race as the fleet were held onshore until early afternoon. The Hyde boat finished a slightly disappointing fourth after looking for a shift downwind that was not there! There was plenty of action and place changing throughout the fleet with an even track and lots of shifts. Goacher won the race, with Mike Hart moving to fifth after a ‘hail mary’ last beat got him out of jail. The race seven results meant the last day would be an uphill battle for anyone thinking they could overhaul Goacher and Evans, but the race for second was tight. Hyde was lying second, by a narrow margin from early pace setters Mike Hart and Jeremy Davy.
The final day saw a 10:30 start and there was decent gradient breeze from the east-north-east. After four days of sitting in the bottom of the boat for most crews, 12 knots felt really good. After initially setting up a course inside Portland Harbour, the PRO moved the whole show outside into Weymouth Bay for the first time that week. It did not look like the smartest move for some time as the wind was rapidly dropping in strength with some large shifts as the morning wore on and rising temperatures/Sun dragged the gradient around to the south. Eventually, after a couple of recalls, a race was underway in the lightest breeze of the week. Boats split right and left, with massive separation. After the dust settled and the sea breeze established itself on the second beat, the Hyde team crossed the line second, with Mike Hart a few boats behind in fourth and Steve Goacher ninth.
The pre start for the ninth and final race with the Black Flag flying saw Steve Goacher engage the Hyde boat, probably just wanting to stay very close and no more, with Mike Hart free to do what he liked. The top three overall all rounded in the first handful of boats of boats at the windward mark with Goacher and Evans leading, Hyde third and Mike Hart and Jeremy Davy right there. At the end of the final race, Mike Hart won comfortably, Goacher was second and the Hyde boat was sixth. The last race was the first time most crews had actually hiked on the windward side and was a decent end to a light week of racing.
Overall, Steve Goacher took a well deserved 10th National title, with Mike Hart narrowly taking second from Richard and Matt in the Hyde Sails boat. With the racing breeze direction of 235-250 degrees for the most part of the week, more often than not the leaders came from the left-hand side of the course due to Portland Bill compression and other local harbour effects at the top of the beats. Occasionally, with the breeze a little further right, shifts and pressure became more important than banging the left with the good guys more often than not figuring this out!
The software aided design work that Hyde sail designer Richard Lovering has completed over the winter with the working sails and spinnaker look to have made the Hyde set up more of an all round performer. An awful lot was learnt at this championship that will be put into the updated design and construction of the Hyde Flying 15 sails, not least of which is an improved rig set up in the super light stuff!
What else was learnt by the Flying 15 sailors at the 2013 nationals? Well, when it’s only blowing five knots, a six-knot puff gives you 20 per cent more breeze than the other teams and a decent velocity lift too. So it’s important to keep a cool head at times!
The next event on the programme for the Hyde Sails team is the Southern Championships at Parkstone SC over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Richard and Matt look forward to seeing you there, where they hope to consolidate their position at the top of the UK Global National Rankings.
Results: 1st Steve Goacher and Phil Evans, 16pts; 2nd Mike Hart and Jeremy Davy, 23pts; 3rd Richard Lovering and Matt Alavarado, 24.4pts; 4th Alan Bax and James Grant, 37pts; 5th Ian Cadwallader and Dave Sweet, 39pts.
To find out more about Hyde’s Flying 15 sails, contact Richardlovering@hydesails.co.uk or see the class pages http://www.hydesails.co.uk/keelboat/flying-15-sails